Daily dose: Partisan posturing edition

Cooper calls immigration lawsuit 'partisan' in letter to Lt. Gov. Forest (Raleigh News & Observer) -- N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a letter on Friday that the multistate coalition challenging President Obama’s immigration plan filed a “partisan lawsuit” that “adds to the divisiveness that has prevented meaningful immigration reform.” The five-paragraph letter was sent to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in response to a request on Thursday for the N.C. attorney general to join the suit.

Is N.C.'s job market back? Trailing national gains, N.C. family income and pay continue to lag (WRAL-TV) -- Although jobs have come back (in North Carolina), pay and income have not. Average hourly earnings for private sector jobs in the state, adjusted for inflation, are down 2 percent since 2008. Even more troubling, average (median) income for households in North Carolina, also adjusted for inflation, was 9 percent lower in 2013 than in 2008. The climb up the income ladder also has some broken and missing rungs. One of the big challenges in recent decades has been the slow growth in middle-paying jobs. Indeed, this slow growth has continued in the current job recovery. Since 2010 in North Carolina, jobs in the three highest-paying economic sectors and jobs in the three lowest-paying economic sectors have each expanded by close to 40 percent. Jobs in the middle-paying sectors (manufacturing, government, construction and education/health care) have increased at half that rate, at near 20 percent. Both of these labor market concerns – pay and slow growth in middle-paying jobs - are related to the third issue, technological unemployment. The concept refers to job losses stemming from new technology and machinery. Technological unemployment is not new, but some say it is accelerating and moving into new occupations.

Cooper responds over NC absence in Obama lawsuit (AP) — With Gov. Pat McCrory joining a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday that he would monitor the case to determine whether North Carolina should join it. But the Democrat questioned entering a "partisan lawsuit" and worried it would cause further division on the immigration issue.

3-judge panel selected for McCrory lawsuit (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Three judges have been selected by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin to serve on the panel that will hear a lawsuit that pits Gov. Pat McCrory against the legislative leaders he contends have tried to weaken his executive power. Howard Manning Jr. , a Superior Court judge in Wake County, Russell Duke, Jr. , a Pitt County judge, and Yvonne Evans from Mecklenburg County will hear the lawsuit that McCrory filed last month.

Best, Worst Run States In America: Survey Of All 50 (24/7 Wall Street) -- 19. North Carolina: Debt per capita: $1,857 (8th lowest); Credit Rating (S&P/Moody’s): AAA/Aaa; 2013 unemployment rate: 8.0% (12th highest); Median household income: $45,906 (11th lowest); Poverty rate: 17.9% (11th highest) -- Perfect credit ratings from both major agencies, one of the highest pension funded ratios in the nation, and very low levels of debt all helped lift North Carolina into the better-run half of all states. The state has also been among the most successful in attracting new residents, with 1.8% of the 2013 population having migrated to the state since mid-2010. However, state residents are, by some measures, not as well off as Americans elsewhere. North Carolina had a median household income of just $45,906 in 2013, considerably lower than the U.S. median of $52,250 that year. Also, almost 18% of residents lived in poverty last year, worse than the U.S. poverty rate of 15.8%, as well as that of most states.

Jobless-benefit proposals back on deck (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Legislative supporters of clarifying eligibility requirements for state unemployment insurance benefits appear set to try again during the long session, this time with a two-bill strategy.

Police, protesters, patrons converge at DPAC (WRAL-TV) -- Hundreds of people marched in downtown Durham Friday evening, and about a half dozen were arrested, in another round of protests against what demonstrators call over-aggressive police tactics.

Police call 14 deaths in wrecks involving young people unprecedented (Winston-Salem Journal) -- In a nine-day period last month that included the Thanksgiving holiday, 14 people died in traffic wrecks throughout the Triad. And nine of those were between the ages of 12 and 20. Officials said Friday that many of the fatal accidents had several things in common — speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving and people not wearing their seat belts. The message was simple — obey the law and stay alive.

With new evidence, man convicted in 1976 murders gets chance at freedom (Fayetteville Observer) -- The N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission unanimously decided on Friday to give former Fayetteville resident Joseph Sledge a chance for freedom 36 years after he was convicted and sent to prison for the murders of a mother and daughter in Bladen County.

Commission votes to examine claims of innocence (AP) — The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission says the case of a 78-year-old man who contends he's innocent of the murder of a mother and daughter should go to a three-judge panel.

N.C. eugenics victims shut out of settlements by law’s wording (Charlotte Observer) -- The state has awarded $4.4 million to 220 victims of forced sterilizations. But many more may find themselves ineligible for payments because of the wording of a 2013 law.

In four years, concerts at the N.C. State Fair have lost almost $900,000. Who's responsible? (Weekly Independent) -- The State Fair makes money, but its concerts at Dorton Arena are a money pit

Inmate pleads guilty in Anson County prison death (AP) — An inmate has pleaded guilty in the stabbing death of another inmate at a prison in Anson County.

Corrections captain fired over inmate death loses appeal (WRAL-TV) -- A North Carolina judge Friday upheld the decision of the state's prison system to fire a corrections captain after a mentally ill inmate died of thirst earlier this year.

State Committee Meets Over Deficient Bridges (TWCN-TV) -- The joint legislative transportation oversight committee held a meeting on Friday to discuss deficient bridges across the state. Last year, more than half of North Carolina's 13,500 bridges were deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Bridge to soak up most of $250M in road money (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Besides the Mid-Currituck Bridge, the Albemarle area will see little else in new road construction over the next 10 years, based on the state’s newly released draft State Transportation Improvement Program.

NCDOT releases 2015 ferry schedule with changes (AP) — The N.C. Department of Transportation's Ferry Division has released its 2015 schedule, and it features changes to a pair of runs.

Public invited to tour governor's western residence (Hendersonville Times-News) -- Gov. Pat McCrory and first lady Ann McCrory will host a Holiday Open House at the governor's western residence this weekend. The open house will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Texas' Rebel flag stands in for North Carolina's Choose Life case (Greensboro News & Record) -- The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear a specialty license plate case from Texas that makes similar contentions as North Carolina Sen. Phil Berger and Speaker Thom Tillis in a different pending case, Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reports. "The Court was asked in the Texas case, and in a separate North Carolina case that is now apparently being kept on hold, to clarify a split among federal appeals courts on whether vanity plate messages are to be treated as government or private expressions, Denniston writes

Ex-Wake employee charged with accessing boss' emails (WRAL-TV) -- The State Bureau of Investigation on Friday arrested a former Wake County employee accused of accessing hundreds of emails of his one-time boss, Register of Deeds Laura Riddick.

Possum Drop's future again uncertain in NC (AP) — The use of a wild opossum during an annual New Year's Eve celebration in the North Carolina mountains again is uncertain after a Wake County judge agreed to block a General Assembly law approved this year.

Judge suspends law allowing Clay County possum drop (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Clay County’s New Year’s Eve possum drop could be in jeopardy after Superior Court judges put a state law allowing the practice on hold because of concerns it could be “unconstitutionally vague.”

'Civil War Christmas' to be held at Bentonville (AP) — The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site is marking the holiday season with an event called "Civil War Christmas."

‘Wayfaring Strangers’ and ‘Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music’ (New York Times) -- For lovers of American roots music, these two books are essential. Fiona Ritchie, the host of NPR’s “The Thistle and Shamrock,” and Doug Orr, the founder of the Swannanoa Gathering music workshops, have put together a gorgeous holiday gift book, including a CD of various artists’ renditions of the songs whose origins the authors so beautifully recount. “Wayfaring Strangers” tells the story of how Scottish immigrants to Ulster in Northern Ireland merged their own musical traditions with those of the Irish before coming to America and adding their music to the American songbook. … Ritchie and Orr discuss the now legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions in Tennessee, when the largely poor and unknown Carter Family, as well as the former railroad worker Jimmie Rodgers, first recorded their music. It was a music entrepreneur named Ralph Peer who discovered them. Musicians know who Ralph Peer was, and now his life and contributions to our nation’s music are made available to all of us in Barry Mazor’s wonderful and absorbing biography, “Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music.” … Peer quickly moved to producing “race records,” discs made by African-­Americans for African-Americans. When Mamie Smith’s 1920 Okeh recording of “Crazy Blues” sold nearly one million copies, Peer had all the encouragement he needed to seek out other roots singers. Moving to the area of country artists, he recorded a lawyer and banjo picker from North Carolina, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, who, years later, showed a young Pete Seeger how to play five-string banjo.

Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer-Winning Poet, Dies at 57 (New York Times) -- Claudia Emerson, whose book of piercing poems about one marriage ending and another beginning won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, died on Thursday in Richmond, Va. She was 57. The cause was cancer, said Virginia Commonwealth University, where she taught. Ms. Emerson strove to find poetic meaning in her rural roots and small-town upbringing, finding metaphors in the real and spiritual landscape of her native South. Like many Southern writers, she said, she explored the “irony of loss.” … Already a songwriter, she was inspired to write poetry by the scenery on her rural 86-mile mail route and by reading Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet,” a book she discovered in the store. She then applied to the creative writing program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was accepted. She earned a master’s degree there in 1991.

22 Observations About the Koch Brothers-History Course Issue (Charlotte Magazine) -- Some N.C. teachers are objecting to a curriculum for a state-mandated history course that's produced by a Koch Brothers-tied group. -- 10. The goofiest part of the coursework is a handout that turns the Bill of Rights into a song, sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” (“Duuuuue process riiiiiiiiiights!”) 11. Still, there’s a subtle authoritarian bent to a lot of this stuff, especially when it discusses “civic virtue” by citing a Benjamin Franklin quotation: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” 12. Among the discussion questions for this exercise are: “Why are only virtuous people capable of freedom?,” and “Why would people who fail to display virtue need masters?”

Board of Governors moves nine UNC centers to final round of reviews (Daily Tar Heel) -- As a UNC Board of Governors examination of the UNC system’s centers and institutes enters its final stages, nine UNC-CH centers were moved on Friday to the final round of review. The nine centers will be required to present to a Board of Governors working group on Dec. 10 and 11. On the list are: the Carolina Center for Public Service; the Carolina Women’s Center; the UNC Center for Faculty Excellence; the Center for Law and Government; the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity; the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy; the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History; the UNC Center for Civil Rights and the UNC Institute on Aging. Thirty-four centers across the system remain on the list for review, with 26 centers "that we're really looking at," said centers and institutes working group Chairman Jim Holmes.

UNC leaders to review 34 centers and institutes (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A UNC Board of Governors working group will review 34 campus-based centers and institutes for possible elimination or change. The 34 include some high-profile entities at the nexus of public discourse in North Carolina, such as NC State University's Institute for Emerging Issues

UNC president: System's med schools need additional dollars (Durham Herald-Sun) -- UNC system President Tom Ross believes additional state funding is needed to support the system’s two medical schools. “I think we feel like if we’re going to have financially stable medical schools and produce the health care professionals that are needed for North Carolina, then they need additional funding,” Ross said Friday.

Winston-Salem school trustee Vic Johnson removed by UNC Board (AP) — The UNC Board of Governors has removed a Winston-Salem State University trustee following allegations he disclosed confidential information about candidates interested in becoming the school's chancellor. The board meeting Friday in Chapel Hill dismissed Vic Johnson based on a board committee's recommendation. The Winston-Salem Journal reported the full board's vote to accept the recommendation was unanimous. Committee chairwoman Joan MacNeil says the action came after Johnson refused to resign last month.

Early College gets approval from state (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- A new Pitt County high school, coupled with the option to obtain a diploma and associate’s degree, received approval from state officials this week.

ECU student project helps homeless (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Students at East Carolina University are linking local hotels with the Greenville Community Homeless Shelter to create a partnership beneficial for both groups.

Duke Energy addresses coal ash spills (CBS 60 Minutes) -- Duke Energy is committed to cleaning up its 32 coal ash ponds in North Carolina that environmentalists say are polluting the water supply, but there is no simple fix for the decades-old problem, says the company's CEO, Lynn Good. The Duke Energy CEO speaks to Lesley Stahl in a rare interview discussing how the nation's biggest utility company plans to handle decades of accumulated coal ash waste in the state of North Carolina, in a report ( PREVIEW: Duke Energy addresses coal ash spills) to be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Dec. 7. "I cannot immediately move 100 million tons of ash. It's not a response that makes any sense," Good tells Stahl. "As much as I'd love to tell you there's a simple solution, it's one that requires study, it's one that requires time to complete." Duke and the rest of the coal-burning power industry have stored coal ash for decades in ditches dug next to rivers or lakes. An estimated 1,070 such ponds exist in the U.S. Coal ash can contain heavy metals associated with cancer, like mercury and cadmium. Environmentalists say toxins from these ponds and basins constantly leach into nearby water and soil, potentially impacting drinking water.

3-judge panel selected for McCrory lawsuit (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Three judges have been selected by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin to serve on the panel that will hear a lawsuit that pits Gov. Pat McCrory against the legislative leaders he contends have tried to weaken his executive power. Howard Manning Jr. , a Superior Court judge in Wake County, Russell Duke, Jr. , a Pitt County judge, and Yvonne Evans from Mecklenburg County will hear the lawsuit that McCrory filed last month.

Coal ash emergency plans arrive ahead of schedule (WRAL-TV) -- After years of refusing to tell state regulators how failed dams could impact areas downstream of coal ash ponds, Duke Energy has supplied most of the information months ahead of a 2015 legislative deadline. In a letter from Duke last week, the company said it planned to submit additional details on the dams' emergency action plans, or EAPs, requested by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources no later than Dec. 22.

Environmentalists see contamination in Yadkin (AP) — North Carolina's environmental department is investigating whether Duke Energy ash pits are responsible for an orange sheen of contamination that has coated a stretch of the Yadkin River, a state spokesman said Friday.

N.C. State says sale of Hofmann Forest falls through (AP) — N.C. State University says the deal to sell Hofmann Forest is off because the buyers couldn't come up with the $131 million sales price.

N.C. State's Hofmann Forest Will Not Be Sold, At Least Not Yet (WUNC-FM) -- NC State University will not be selling Hofmann Forest, for now. The two firms that had agreed to buy the 79,000-acre research forest near Jacksonville could not meet its financial obligations to buy the property. The two firms, Resource Management Service and Hoffman Forest, LLC, had agreed to pay $131 million to buy Hofmann Forest. But they ran into financial problems almost immediately after entering into the agreement with NC State. While this contract has terminated, that doesn’t mean Hofmann Forest won’t be sold in the future.

NCSU deal to sell Hofmann Forest falls through (WRAL-TV) -- The Endowment Fund of North Carolina State University said Friday that a deal to sell the 79,000-acre Hofmann Forest near the coast is off after the two firms planning to buy the land couldn't finalize the financial contingencies of the contract.

Wind farm rebates extended (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Pasquotank County commissioners agreed 5-2 Monday to extend tax incentives for the long-delayed Desert Wind project along the Pasquotank-Perquimans County border.

Power Savings of Smart Meters Prove Slow to Materialize (New York Times) -- Modern power meters are meant to talk directly to power companies, their customers and their customers’ dishwashers, but they have yet to live up to their potential.

Black bears in North Carolina are flourishing off the fat of the land (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- The population has climbed to about 20,000, from 2,000 in 1984. And, because they're skipping hibernation and food is plentiful, they're getting larger, with 700-plus pounds no longer rare

Conservative group fighting for solar power attacks Fla. Commission decision (Petersburg [Fla.] Blog) -- Conservatives For Energy Freedom A Georgia Based Group That Recently Established A Presence In Florida, Has Emerged As Critic Of The Florida Public Service Commission, And The Commission's Efforts To Cut Energy Efficiency Targets Of Investor-Owned Utilities.

Couple sees money in lifting trees from river bed (AP) — Randy Hiestand pointed to a large, mysterious light spot on a sonar image showing the bottom of the dark, ancient waters of the Pasquotank River. "There's a log right there that's going to be a monster," he said, sitting at a weathered picnic table near the shoreline.

White Anxiety and the Futility of Black Hope (New York Times) -- The third in a series of interviews with philosophers on race. This week’s conversation is with Shannon Sullivan, a professor in the department of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She is the author of “Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism.” — George Yancy … GEORGE YANCY: For so many poor people of color there is not only the fact that the wages pay less than pennies, as it were, but that black life continues to be valued as less. Is there a history of that racial differential wage between poor whites and poor blacks or people of color? SHANNON SULLLIVAN: Class and poverty are real factors here, but they don’t erase the effects of race and racism, at least not in the United States and not in a lot of other countries with histories (and presents) of white domination. The challenge philosophically and personally is to keep all the relevant factors in play in thinking about these issues. In that complex tangle, you hit the nail on the head when you said that black life continues to be valued as less. Poor white people’s lives aren’t valued for much either, but at least in their case it seems that something went wrong, that there was something of potential value that was lost. Let’s put it even more bluntly: America is fundamentally shaped by white domination, and as such it does not care about the lives of black people, period. It never has, it doesn’t now, and it makes me wonder about whether it ever will. Here is an important question: What would it mean to face up to the fact that the United States doesn’t really care much about black people?

How to understand the state's health care premiums (Wilmington Star-News column) -- In North Carolina, as elsewhere, average health care premiums are likely to moderately increase both in 2015 and 2016.

Eshelman's donation to UNC will fund innovation (Wilmington Star-News) -- The University of North Carolina system once invested in the PPD founder, and now he is returning the favor.

Celia Rivenbark - Marrying Manson with killer ceremony (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Convicted murderer and octogenarian Charles Manson is getting married

How NC contributes to the abuse of chickens we eat (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Craig Watts, 48, a North Carolina farmer, opened his four chicken barns to show how a Perdue chicken lives. Despite what company chairman Jim Perdue says in a promotional video, it’s a hellish sight.



Partisan lawsuit

Roy did the right thing by ridiculing Guvnor Pat's and Lt. Dan's grandstanding requests to join the lawsuit. Prevaricating Pat apparently believes that if he calls this political stunt "bipartisan", that makes it true.

It's about as bipartisan Fox News.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Wind farms?

Why Pasquotank County? There are better places for wind farms.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Or a hot-air balloon

launching site:

"It's a perfect starting point. You can load up with enough hot air here to float you all the way to Murphy or Manteo, depending on how the wind blows."

Murphy or Manteo

Hell, when the NCGA is in session and Pat's in town, you could take on enough hot air to take you all the way to Kansas.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014